50 years ago I learned to be a production potter at
Big Creek in California. That summer I worked as a potter at a community studio and sold my pots on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. I don’t have photos from those years, although I still have a few pots, and also remembered images. One is of a set of goblets, a huge order for me at that time.
My life is about lines of connections. Big Creek was the start of a line that led me to where I am today. A job as a pottery counselor brought me to Maine in 1975, which led to teaching and working in Brunswick. I bought my first little house (for less than you can buy a car for today) and built my first kiln in 1979 and spent a few years working in special ed and as an elementary art teacher. I ran out of career options and became a full-time potter in 1984, establishing Ash Cove Pottery in Harpswell in 1986.
I created the Double Dip Dinghy in 2016. Amazingly, after being a potter for 45 years, it was my moment of fame. Dinghies have improved our lives, enabled us to employ and mentor Rachael, and have been donated to many local fundraisers, contributing to others’ lives as well.
Making pots is my passion and my profession. I still get a thrill throwing pots on the wheel, “pulling” cylinders, forming shapes. At this point in my life as a potter, meeting my customers and seeing where our lives intersect is as important to me as the purchases they may make. I enjoy giving demos, and “having conversations from the wheel”—sharing my thoughts on clay and pots and life.
Not being trained in an art college environment I suffered from imposter syndrome. But after 50 years making more pots than I can count, that are in households around the world, I can proudly say that I am an excellent Production Potter, making functional pots to be used daily.
I started making pots in 1970 when I was in high school. My father needed a hobby, and he and I took a Saturday morning class together. I've been making pots ever since. Early on I got hooked on throwing pots on the wheel, on the magic of taking a lump of earth and “pulling” it into a cylinder and then shaping it into a vessel.
I am a production potter, and enjoy making multiples. Each individual piece is an attempt to embody an ideal that lives in my mind. With each throwing cycle the ideal evolves and the forms change slightly. Over time these forms have become clearer and bolder, like a photo coming into focus.
I am a maker of things, and mostly I make them out of clay. I design functional pottery to be used in daily life. A common reaction to my work is “what a good idea.” I strive to make handles that fit the hand, pots that drain and “fight the yuk factor,” pots that work well and will bring joy to those who use them.
I established Ash Cove Pottery when I moved to Harpswell in 1985. I am fortunate to live in a beautiful place, surrounded by the stunning beauty of Ash Point Cove. I share my life with my partner Gail and our daughter Rose. We aim for a balanced life of work, time for family and friends, and maintaining and enjoying the gardens that we have created here.
I see myself as a dinosaur with an important role. There is no “need” to make or use hand thrown pottery in the 21st century, yet I feel it is especially important to do so now. We live in a globalized world of mass produced goods where people are more likely to text their online friends than to have tea with their neighbors. It takes effort to maintain contact with our earth, nature, each other.
Handmade pottery is not silent; it has a presence that comes from the soul of the one who made it. More and more I see that the contact I have with my customers is as important as the making of the pots themselves. People crave a connection to people and place, to something real. When you use my pots you meet me in the irregularities and differences between one piece and another. My pots connect you to me and my wonderful life in Harpswell, Maine.